Umami Mart Registry


The markets are exploding with pumpkins and other squash -- which means, autumn is here! I always look forward to this time of year because I like bundling up, wearing my hair down and cozying up on the couch with all kinds of tea. My favorite squash to work with is kabocha. Its sweet flesh has a great moist potato-like texture. It is less fibrous than the common pumpkin, which I reserve for carving Jack-O'-Lanterns.

The most challenging part of preparing kabocha is cutting it. It's important that you have a sharp knife and a very stable cutting surface. Always spread your hand on top of the knife in a perpendicular position. Simmering kabocha in dashi, soy sauce and sugar or mirin is a staple for fall. This time, I tried to spice things up with a protein boost. I added toasted, chopped sunflower seeds to the steamed kabocha. With a side of ginger tea, it's the perfect snack to keep you warm and give you enough energy to rake the leaves outside.

1.5 lb kabocha
2 cups dashi
2 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp sugar
0.5 cup toasted nuts or seeds


1. Choose a kabocha at the market with a firm stem.


2. Cut the kabocha into quarters. Use the palm of your hand, positioned perpendicular to a sharp knife, to cut into quarters. Cut off parts of the skin with the stem. Scrap out the seeds and insides with a spoon.


3. Wrap each quarter in saran wrap and heat in a microwave for 3 minutes.


4. Meanwhile, toast seeds or nuts on the stove top on high. I used sunflower seeds but I could have gone for peanuts, walnuts or pine nuts. Take off heat once you start hearing a sizzling or popping sound and the nuts or seeds are a light golden brown.


5. Combine the dashi, soy sauce and sugar into a small cup or bowl. Make sure the sugar dissolves into the liquids.


6. Unwrap quarters and cut into bite-sized pieces.


7. Put the dashi mixture into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. 8. Add the kabocha skin side down and simmer with dashi for about 20 minutes. Prick the surface with a toothpick or fork. It should feel like a cooked potato.


9. Roughly chop the seeds or nuts.


10. Combine the kabocha with the seeds or nuts into a mixing bowl and coat well. Transfer to a serving bowl.


This kabocha packs a protein punch and is a great compliment to rice or bread. I like that it's hearty without making you feel like you ate something greasy or heart-burn inducing. It's a great thing to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner that will be an unexpected alternative to candied yams.

Column: Japanify

1 comment

  • I think the microwave step might have just changed my life! I love kabocha, but have never made it at home. The cutting up prep with any type of squash is tough and takes me a while. Excited to try this recipe!

    starchymarie on

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